Spend enough time with me and you’ll learn that training kids to manage their own lives is essential. None of us want to have our child leave our home at 18 years old, only to return to our house wide-eyed and say, “Mom – what were you THINKING? I can’t handle THAT!” No, ma’am, you’re growing a grown-up and that means your child will be prepared for the real world! And that starts at home – as early as possible.
Let’s face it, we’re on a ticking timeline. We have 18 years to get them ready to leave. That means, in the ideal world, they’d have 50% learned by the age of 9. That’s right. 9 years old.
Now, some of you with 6, 8, and 10-year-olds might be a bit uncomfortable with this training deadline. Don’t worry… you can catch up. And those with 2-year-olds are thinking, I better get started. You betcha So let’s get started!
The purpose for training your kids is two fold.
1) Kids need to develop the necessary skills to flourish in the real world at 18 years old (imagine tasks related to cleaning chores, time management, money management, social skills, and self control) and
2) Self-esteem is developed by contributing in meaningful ways to the family (and by extension, the communities we are a part of). Kids who play meaningful roles in the family feel more deeply connected and feel a purpose.
By creating a timeline for training, you’re creating a blueprint for developing the self esteem and hard skills needed to function as thriving adult.
Let’s start by answering the following 3 questions (it’s best when you actually write this down – or better yet, download the resource, Quit Your Job as the Maid as it walks you through this process in detail):
Create a list of all the tasks you think are necessary for your child to learn by the age 18
Then, make an assessment of where your child is NOW on the timeline for training:
What can your child do and is willing to do?
What can your child do that they are not willing to do?
What doesn’t your child do because they haven’t been trained yet?
Be detailed! Really think about what your child is capable of… don’t limit them because of their size. I always say,
If they can walk, they can work.
And truly, the more you believe in them, the more they live up to their capabilities. Another good rule of thumb – Believe in them before they believe in themselves. It’s a great place to start.
Once you’ve identified the three separate lists, it’s time to implement a plan for training.
Depending on the age of your child, their willingness and how long they’ve been getting used to you doing most of the work, there are different paces to introduce new tasks. Take is slow. Start with a conversation with your child about learning some new skills around the house. Ask them what THEY want to learn. Maybe it’s laundry. Maybe it’s setting the table. Maybe it’s mopping floors. For a teenager, maybe it’s paying bills, mowing the lawn or washing the car. Start where they are interested. Choose a new skill every week or two, acknowledge progress and improvement and then always celebrate.
Training is intended to be fun. Not a punishment. It’s a learning opportunity for you and your child. Spend time together as they learn. Ask them how they think it can be done and let them try it their way. Just because you’ve been doing this for 20 years doesn’t mean you’re the only show in town. And give it time for the kids who are resistant or slow to learn. Consistent practice helps. Encourage. And then encourage more.
Stay in front of your kids. Remember, they are learners. We teach them something new and sometimes they master it in 5 minutes. CRAZY. Our job is to teach the kids as quickly as they can learn it. Your kids gobble up life at breakneck speed. It is hard for you to stay in front of them AND you may even worry that you are piling on too much. But fear not, soon enough, they will move past and they will slow down, all on their own. They follow their own rhythm. You can not imagine how many parents have no idea about their kids’ natural rhythm and mistake a slow rhythm for laziness or disinterest. So stay alert.
Keep updating the lists as they tackle new tasks. Keep tackling new tasks and remember to include self skills, life skills, social skills and then, more self, life and social skills. Again, it is a cycle, a rhythm. It never ends. Build on, dive deep, make it juicy.
It’s really very simple. You are creating a system, a routine that you will be used for the rest of your child’s life. There is no reason to make this more complicated than it needs to be. When you make it complicated, the kids get confused and then discouraged and then they fight you about the contributions and you quit and say it doesn’t work. It does work. And the sooner you create the system and actually use it, the easier it will be on everyone.
As I mentioned above, you can learn all about creating a timeline for training in my free Quit Your Job as the Maid video and resource. It’s an action plan for creating a house of learners, contributors and self-sufficient rock stars! Access the Free Video and Resource HERE.
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